Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.
How to Make an Old Sofa Look Modern
If your old sofa is a little worse for wear, don’t give up on it yet without trying to update its look. Even though you’ve had it for a few years, it doesn’t make much sense to drain your bank account to go out and buy a new one. Just because the fabric is worn and the cushions are droopy doesn't mean it's time to toss it away. You can easily give your old sofa a new upscale look with these simple DIY techniques.
Swap Out Throw Pillows
The easiest way to give it a makeover is to bring in different throw pillows. If you don’t have the cash to buy a bunch of new pillows, fix them up with stencils, appliques, new fabric, or swap them from other pieces of furniture. Try this project by cutting pieces of textured or patterned fabric and sewing them onto solid pillows. Go online or hit up home decor retailers to find just the right pillows on sale that will fit your sofa style and the room’s decor.
Replace Sagging Cushions
When your sofa starts to look droopy, it's time to restore the cushions. Don’t just try stuffing a bunch of polyester fill into the cushions; it will simply result in a lumpy mess. Remove the cushion cover, wrap the foam with polyester or cotton batting, or purchase new foam inserts. If you go to an upholstery shop, you'll end up spending way too much. Search for online cushion sources that are economical, and that get good reviews.
All you have to do is provide the seat and back cushion measurements. Next, decide on the type of firmness. In a week or so, you’ll have a comfortable, brand new-looking sofa. If the back cushions are crushed and aren't attached to the sofa, you can add extra fiberfill and create tufting with strong thread, buttons, and an upholstery needle.
Change the Legs
Here’s another quick and easy way to give your current sofa a trendy look. The subtle change is quite effective just by switching out its old legs. Choose a different color, contour, and different material. This will create a delicate or chunky look depending on the leg shape. Most new sofas give you the option of unscrewing the legs, which makes it a breeze. If you can’t find new replacements which coordinate with your sofa, just paint the original legs for an easy-peasy facelift.
Dress It With a Slipcover
Over time sofa upholstery wears out in spots and will most likely end up with stains from dogs, kids, food, and wine. If your sofa is still solid and comfy, don’t even think about buying a new one. Look into slipcovers that you can swap out based on your mood, color palette, and room design. They can easily be removed, tossed in the wash, and put back on before your guests arrive.
The variety of slipcovers range from affordable to fairly pricey, but they’re still less expensive than having your sofa reupholstered. Several furniture retailers, such as Pottery Barn and IKEA, offer custom-tailored slipcovers for their specific models that are more expensive than one-piece versions. To find the right size for an inexpensive single slipcover, take the sofa measurements from outside arm to the other outside arm and its height. Place the slipcover on the sofa following the instructions and tuck it in to create a neat fit.
Add Nailhead Trim
Take your plain sofa from outdated to updated with nailhead trim. Adding the accents to your sofa can create a contemporary design. Nailhead trim is a chic furniture accessory that gives it sparkle, and it's pretty simple to do it yourself. Depending on the leather or fabric color, choose from warm to cool tones that range from brass, brushed nickel, bronze, gold, silver, or rubbed antique.
If you’re unsure where to apply the nail-heads, take your time and determine the ideal placement. Classic nailhead outlines are typically along the base of the sofa and around the front curves of the arms. Before you start, make sure there is a solid substructure to nail the upholstery tacks into place.
Bring in Drama
Add a dramatic accent wall in the room to create a contrast with your sofa fabric. This is a quick afternoon project that will make light-colored upholstery pop against a dark wall. If your sofa is dark, go the opposite direction and paint the walls in a light tone to make the sofa stand out.
For example, an emerald green velvet sofa becomes a prominent focal point against light sand or dove gray walls. Oatmeal linen upholstery can create a distinctive look paired with a dark gray or navy blue wall color.
Completely Change the Color
Most of us have yet to attempt to change the color of a sofa. This project might make you feel faint of heart. If your sofa is in somewhat good condition, but the fabric is faded, it might be worth the risk. Look for fabric dyes and paints to revamp your old sofa and limp it along for a few more years. If your worn-out custom slipcover is in desperate need of a color upgrade, use regular fabric dye to give it a new lease on life.
Leather sofas eventually get dried out, cracked, and worn. Believe it or not, you can paint, stain or dye the leather upholstery. Several varieties are available in sprays, rub-on stains, or liquid paints. Light colors will not completely cover dark leather, so go with a dark color for a successful result. The outcome is pretty amazing.
Items That Will Update Your Sofa
- Throw pillows
- Foam cushions and batting
- Heavy-duty thread, buttons and upholstery needle
- Stylish sofa legs
- Nailhead trim and a rubber mallet
- Interior paint
- Dye and paint for fabric and leather
- Metallic accents
- Steam machine
- Decorative throws
Additional Ways to Spruce Up Your Sofa
- If your sofa is an expensive family heirloom, you can have it reupholstered in new fabric. A professional upholsterer can cost a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars, so it may not be terribly cost-effective.
- Metal accents next to your sofa make it feel upscale. Brass and glass side tables and a matching bookcase give your sofa an expensive vibe.
- Steam clean your sofa to remove layers of dirt, dust, and grime that may have muted its colors and patterns. Rent a steam cleaning machine with a hand-held attachment from the hardware store, home center, or grocery store.
- Drape a decorative throw over the back of the sofa or on the seat cushions. Choose a complementary or coordinating color. For a fun look, go with lively patterns of stripes, florals, paisleys, or geometrics. Add a textural throw made from raw silk, velvet, chunky knit, or faux fur.
© 2019 Linda Chechar
Start a Conversation!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 20, 2019:
Liz, Glad you like the ideas. I have an old sofa that I've tried quite a few things to keep it going. But now it's time to say goodbye. We just ordered a new one and I'm ecstatic!
Liz Westwood from UK on February 20, 2019:
These are great ideas. We once had an old sofa that was a little worse for wear. We looked in to having it reupholstered, but it did not work out a lot cheaper than buying a new one, which we decided to do in the end.